Employee Engagement – the Other Side of the Coin

Employee engagement has emerged as one critical factor for organizational success in today’s competitive business world. According to Gallup organizations with high employee engagement are up to 20% more profitable, than their counterparts, that score low on the engagement spectrum. High employee engagement also leads to higher talent retention rates, more innovation and fewer mental health issues among their staff. Yes, to succeed in this dimension, organizations will have to come up with a strong purpose, that can unite people and let them be proud of doing something great. Yes – they will need the clarity of strategic direction – both in communication and in action. And yes – they will need to nurture the environment of psychological safety and a positive collaborative culture.

But the reason, why these companies will be having much higher engagements rates, than the global average of 15% as found the Gallup study is, that they will not be hiring or keeping demotivated, disengaged, and frustrated individuals, who are angry at the world around them and think their employer owes them fulfilment. The fact is, that is a lot easier to motivate the motivated, to engage the engaged and to share the vision, create amazing culture and develop innovative products with those willing to work together on a worthy cause, give daily their best and outgrow their own expectations in the long run. And chances are, that engaging organizations would rather get those people on board.

The other side of the organization’s engagement coin are the people themselves. So, if you as an employee feel disengaged with your work, take a part of the responsibility for your own happiness and fulfilment under your own reign.

As the very first, understand what exactly the source of your disengagement is.

One of the most common reasons for frustration at work is the feeling of being not sufficiently appreciated. Studies suggest, that about two-thirds of all professionals think they get no or too little recognition at work. Feeling lack of recognition might have a negative impact on your morale. I agree that encouragements, praise and reinforcing feedback are all very important parts of a working culture that would stimulate engagement. But making your performance dependent on praise is simply a wrong way to see things. Especially, if the financial package and the seniority of your position are aligned with your expectations.

But here is the thing, most people don’t think they are. A full eighty percent of all employees think they are underpaid. Obviously, there is a problem with the perception here, because mathematically that simply cannot be the case.

Another reason for feeling disengaged is the feeling of not being promoted often enough, or in general not advancing in the own career as fast as one would love to. Again, how much of that is “true” and how much is it you own inflated expectation?

Promotion, pay rise and chase for praise are all examples of external rewards, that – as soon as fulfilled will set you to chase the next promotion, pay raise or a new token of recognition. None of these can keep you motivated in the long run, so is the human nature.

You need to dig deeper and challenge your perspective – do I really earn that little? Is the expectation reasonable, to be continuously on the high achiever list, or to be promoted year after year?

Take an effort to understand what your purpose is and question, how closely your job resonates with it. Are you attaining your purpose daily by doing your work? While doing so – are you adding value to your organization? What is your contribution to the amazing product of service of your company, that is making this world a better place?

Now, let us get back to the issue of the lack of appreciation. Here is your situation. You have toiled away for days on that project, often staying longer than you should have. You have given to your job your best. You have made a difference and have contributed to your organization’s vision. You are feeling proud. Additionally, you have probably learned something along the way and outgrown your own skills. Yes, a “great job” email from the boss would have been nice, but if didn’t happen – is it really a reason to feel disengaged? Not directly.

This is because the more intrinsic divers of motivation are kicking in:

–         Satisfaction from doing your work the best you can.

–         A good feeling of having accomplished something meaningful.

–         Drive for personal development and growth.

If you have done this exercise, you still might come to the conclusion, that a different organization, or a career change would be the best option. But that would be for the reasons of creating more value for yourself and the world. With this mindset, you will be better equipped to find a job and a working culture, that would resonate with your personal purpose and will give you sustainable motivation and engagement, then if you were simply chasing a higher position or a larger cash package.

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